Bone Broth Basics: Make Bone Broth in a Slow Cooker55
With my upcoming challenge to Live Below the Line, I’ll be stretching out my food budget by making bone broth. This isn’t so much a recipe, as it is a basic how-to for making bone broth in a slow cooker – it’s just that easy! (Check out the table at the end of this post for a comparison of some popular slow cookers).
You’ll want to make your own bone broth because it’s nutrient dense and full of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, that happen to be in the right ratios to support bone health. It’s also relatively inexpensive to make your own broth, especially if you’re already eating quality sources of meat (e.g. grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chickens or wild fish), because you can just save the leftover bones from your roasts and other meals. You can usually ask your local butcher for inexpensive soup bones as well.
Really, once you’ve tried making your own bone broth, you’ll never bother with stock-cubes and pre-made bouillon mixes again (they can be questionable not only because of the quality of animal bones used, but also because of the high amount of salt and MSG used in the flavoring). Want another reason to make your own broth? Homemade bone broth is also a great source of gelatin, which can help support joints and ease joint-pain.
Baby, You Gotta Stew Bone Broth Going
Arrested Development fans will know that Carl Weathers almost had it right.
In addition to saving your leftover bones, making bone broth is a great way to get more nutrients out of your vegetable scraps (e.g. tough broccoli stalks, carrot tops and peels) and even egg shells. Egg shells are also rich in minerals and the egg membranes have nutrients that are supportive for joint health.
Keep in mind though, that you’ll want to use good quality sources of meat and organic vegetable scraps if possible because you’ll be drawing out and concentrating the nutrients from these scraps.
Don’t Forget the Acid
Add a good glug of apple cider vinegar to your broth – the acidic nature of the vinegar helps to draw minerals out of the bones.
Oh No, My Bone Broth Didn’t Gel
You know you’ve got a good broth going when, after straining and cooling your broth, you have a good layer of fat on the top (you can keep this for cooking and adding flavor to vegetables), and it’s gelatinized. This of course, is a sign that there’s a plenty of gelatin in your broth!
But don’t stress if your bone broth doesn’t gel. It’s still good – chances are there are still plenty of nutrients in it, and it’s still worth drinking.
Here are a few reasons why your bone broth didn’t gel:
- You used too much water, or had too few bones to make your stock
- You didn’t simmer for long enough. Simmer for at least 12 hours, but you could simmer as long as 24 hours.
- The quality of bones wasn’t good enough to gel. For example, conventionally raised chicken bones often don’t gelatinize because they’re raised in cages and don’t have as much collagen/gelatin in their joints and bones.
Now, you should be all set to make your own broth!
- about 2 pounds of good quality bones
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
- sea salt
- egg shells (optional)
- vegetable ends (optional)
- Place the bones in a 3-quart slow-cooker. You can easily adjust this recipe to the size of your slow-cooker. The bones should fill up about 3/4 of the slow-cooker.
- Peel and cut your vegetables and garlic. If you are using organic produce, you can just roughly chop them. You can also add vegetable scraps and rinsed, crushed egg shells into your slow-cooker. You'll be straining these out before consuming the broth.
- Fill the slow-cooker with filtered water. Season with a generous amount of salt (about 1-1.5 tsp).
- Add 1-2 tablespoons (or one good 'glug') of organic apple cider vinegar.
- Set the slow-cooker on low and cook for 18-24 hours.
- Strain the broth through cheesecloth or a strainer and cool. A good broth will usually have a layer of fat on the top, and will gelatinize when thoroughly cool. The fat can be removed and used for cooking/flavoring vegetables.
Slow Cooker Comparison Table
Hamilton Beach 7-Quart Stay Or Go Slow Cooker
|$$||7||Single clip latches lid to base for spill-resistant travel; Detachable lid and removable stoneware for dishwasher clean upHinged lid stays up for serving; Folding handles snap up for carrying fold down for storage; Perfect size for a 7 lb. chicken|
|Crock-Pot Cook' N Carry 6-Quart Oval Manual Portable Slow Cooker||$$||6||6-quart oval stoneware is perfect for seven or more people or a six pound roast; High, low, and warm settings are perfect for making chilis, stews, sauces and more; Lid-mounted locking system is easy to use for portability; Secure fit lid helps keep the unit sealed so your meal stays in when you go out; Measures approximately 15 by 10 by 15 inches|
|Cuisinart 3-In-1 Cook Central Multi-Cooker, Slow Cooker, Steamer||$$$$||6||Ships in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging; One touch switches modes when recipe calls for combination cooking; Extra-large blue backlit LCD display with easy-to-read time and temperature settings; Removable 6-quart nonstick aluminum cooking pot; Glass lid with cool-touch handle for clear view and comfortable handling; Dishwasher-safe removable parts for effortless cleanup, Steaming rack included, Limited 3-year warranty|
|Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, 6-Quart||$$||6||3 choices for easy, automatic cooking: probe, program and manual; Thermometer probe for meat; Clip-on spoon; Clip-tight gasket lid; Easy, automatic cooking
|Crock-Pot 4-Quart Cook and Carry Slow Cooker||$$||4||4-quart capacity feeds 4 or more people; Lid-mounted locking system; Removable oval stoneware and lid are dishwasher-safe; Convenient warm setting; Great for potlucks, family gatherings, tailgating, parties and more|
|West Bend 5-Quart Oblong-Shaped Slow Cooker||$$||5||Oblong-shaped slow cooker with adjustable temperature control; Generous 5-quart capacity for entertaining or dinner with the family; Oven-, range-top-, and freezer-safe cooking pot; glass lid included; Heating base doubles as a nonstick mini griddle; dishwasher-safe parts; Measures 7-1/4 by 12-3/4 by 8-3/4 inches; 1-year limited warranty|
|DeLonghi Stainless-Steel Programmable 5-Quart Slow Cooker||$$$||5||Just set it and go with the 10-hr digital countdown timer; perfect for long work days or busy days running around with the kids at sports practice; Enjoy the ease of the servable ceramic bowl, take it straight to the table, so there is less to clean!; You can take pleasure in the ample counterspace you'll still enjoy with the sleek compact design; Feed the family or even a whole dinner party with the 5-qt capacity; Be sure that you will always cook food at the perfect temperature with high and low settings and a 2-hr keep warm function|
|Proctor-Silex 4-Quart Slow Cooker||$||4||Removable stoneware for easy cleaning; Dishwasher safe stoneware; Keep warm setting; Dishwasher safe glass lid|
|Calphalon 7-Quart Digital Slow Cooker||$$$$||7||Auto-setting cooks for 2 hours on High, then switches to Low for the remainder of the cook time; 24-hour digital timer automatically switches to Warm at the end of the cooking cycle; Easy-to-read, high contrast LCD display; Dishwasher-safe 7 Qt. ceramic crock; The Calphalon Kitchen Electrics collection features our exclusive Opti-Heat System. Designed to provide accurate temperature control and even heat delivery, Opti-Heat ensures that foods cook evenly and thoroughly.|
|Frigidaire Professional Stainless 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker||$$$||7||Spacewise Design; Pro-Select LED Display; Pro-Select One-Touch Options; Fully Programmable; Stylish Stainless-Steel Exterior|